Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Didn't We Do This Eight Years Ago?

Americans were once very political animals. As recently as the early 20th century, one could still take hours getting from one end of a major city street to another on election night because they would be thronged with people excitedly chattering about the candidates, the latest election results. With his characteristic style of full-immersion reporting, Stephen Crane wrote a news article consisting entirely of snatches of conversation that he'd heard on an election night in New York City.

Nowadays, it's a different story outside of campaign headquarters. Nowadays, even those who vote quietly walk out of their local school or other polling place and get right back to their tee vees. Unlike the old days, there's no sense of community in what is indisputably the most communal thing in human existence: Voting.

Nowadays, a good voter turnout in a general election year is considered to be one that actually approaches 50%. We've been disenfranchised by neverending corruption and scandals and Congresses and administrations that plainly listen more to well-heeled lobbyists than it does its own people. We have passed along to our children our cynicism of politics and politicians without passing along as a counterpoint the importance of voting in the good ones.

Given the level of political passion and involvement that we've seen in Iran, about the only number coming out of this crooked election that I will unconditionally believe is the 85% voter turnout.

Go to Andrew Sullivan's blog, whatever your differences with him over the Iraq war or being a former Bush cheerleader, and you will note that Iran has completely dominated it. Every hour or so, Sullivan is bringing us real-time blogging despite digital attacks and is getting coverage directly from the sources on the ground. The MSM, like the NY Times and CNN, are merely regurgitating stale facts from stale sources and are basically phoning it in.

In fact, the MSM habitually refer to Mousavi as a reform candidate who was defeated by Ahmedinejad, thereby giving some credence to the obviously crooked election results. All they're reporting is that there are riots in the streets of Tehran. We already know that. This isn't a mere riot. A riot that engulfs much of a country is no longer a riot.

It's a revolution.

It's a revolution that in a way has already claimed two victories. It has already severely crippled Ahmedinejad's credibility as a legitimate democratically-elected ruler who has merely played into the hands of Mousavi's supporters by desperately hanging onto power using jackbooted tactics on the streets, raiding college dormitories and committing acts of vandalism and openly threatening those who challenge the election results. Jamming tee vee transmissiions, blocking access to websites, making text messaging impossible. That's not democracy any more than the west's coverage of the three day-old melee is actual fucking news.

And this is the Iranian revolution's second victory, one over the pompous, smug MSM that got it so wrong with Iraq and its WMD's, got it so wrong with Hurricane Katrina and got it so wrong, yes, with Iran. It's bloggers such as Sullivan and Nico Pitney using sources on the ground down there that the MSM would never think to even hunt down, people using Twitter to spread news and pictures of not just the mayhem but the context behind it.

Iran, especially its young voters that are interested in the west, has shamed our media and it has shamed we the American voter. Just as Pakistan had shamed us last year. Just as Mexico had shamed us after their own elections. Just as the Indians of Peru are shaming us to this day by putting their lives on the line to defend their homeland against encroachment by oil drillers.

Indeed, we should've taken to the streets eight years ago long before inauguration day 2001. We should've sent Bush a loud, filthy message from the day after election night that we will not stand for having our democracy, our very electoral process, stolen from us.

We used to be like this, like this Iranian girl who could be posing for the Statue of Liberty. What happened?


At June 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

That's easy. When they rigged the 2000 and 2004 election in America they had Bush 'win' by only a couple of points. The American people could talk themselves into believing Bush had 'won', and the GOP had that gang of stooges ready to storm the vote counting room in FL to force them to declare Bush the winner. Since the Dems are not an opposition party to the GOP, but more of an adjunct, there was no leadership to fight the GOP's organization.

Iran went overboard and had their guy 'win' by 20 points, and obviously unrealistic number. That has really pissed everybody off.

I posit that the US would have seen those kinds of numbers if Bush had 'won' the 2000 election by 20%.

At June 15, 2009 at 7:04 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Comrade: What was the voter turnout in '00?

At June 15, 2009 at 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miami 'Riot' Squad: Where Are They Now?

At June 15, 2009 at 7:56 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

I did the math on that election and basically about 12% of the entire US voting populace determined the election. When voter turnout is low, the Conservatives win, when more people come to the polls, the Liberals win. That's why the GOP stops at nothing to prevent Democrats (blacks, latinos, poor, you know ACORN) from voting.

The ONLY way the GOP can win is by rigging the election by any means available: such as vote suppression and black-box electronic voting machines.

I got to vote for the Green Party in 2000. My district, Brooklyn, was definitely going for Gore by at least 80%, so I could help the NYC Green Party stay on the ballot. Sure I pulled the lever for Nader, but I was really voting Green.

Iran used electronic voting machines for the first time. I wonder who programmed them?

At June 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Heh heh. Thanks for the blast from the past, anon, although I'm not sure what context you were trying to provide here.

At June 15, 2009 at 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, didn't finish comment. The "Brooks Brothers Riot" was a staged joke.

Comrade Rutherford, you are totally correct when you say the Dems are not really an opposition party but an adjunct.

We are not now and haven't been a functioning democracy for eons. Perhaps a plutocracy is a more apt description.

BTB, the footage of Gore presiding over his own undoing in the Senate is revolting.


At June 15, 2009 at 8:02 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...


You're saying the voter turnout was just 12%??? That sounds kind of low even for our underachieving nation. I thought it was closer to 45-50%

I wasn't aware that Iran used electronic voting machines. All the pictures and file footage I've seen of people casting their ballots showed paper ballots, such as Ahmedinejad's.

Tne tricky shit was that each candidate had a code number. Mousavi's code, for instance, was 4 while Ahmedinejad's was 44. No, no potential for an error there, right?

Seeing those purple fingers again after over four years gave me PTSD of the January 31 '05 elections in Iraq and all the Republicans waving purple fingers at the next SOTU address. Like they actually gave a shit about democracy in Iraq moreso than having their brain-damaged hero W validated.

At June 15, 2009 at 8:07 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

You mean at the beginning of Fahrenheit 911? Oh, tell me about it. Not only was it revolting and fatally demoralizing, it was also disgusting in that Gore had instructed the Democratic leadership in the Senate to not make waves by sponsoring the bill brought to the Senate by African American voters who never got to vote. That Gore would even make jokes during that session made it especially bile-churning.

I've mentioned that infamous piece of footage on occasion and solely on the strength of that, I never, ever wanted him to run for President. I was probably the only liberal to say that out loud at the time but I stuck by my guns. let him bloviate about the weather and climate change and win Oscars and Nobels. Just don't run for President, Al, please.

At June 16, 2009 at 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

people casting their ballots showed paper ballots,
Sad how low voter turn out is in the US. When I check some of the film coming out of Iran all I could think was the French who have never forgotten what it takes to win for the little people. That's all of Us.
The word film dates me, doesn't it.

At June 16, 2009 at 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm hoping that these people keep up the pressure on the regime. We should have nothing against the Iranian people, just the government. And I hope that we keep our dirty mitts out of this, this time, so that the Iranian kids can claim victory themselves. We (our government) should just STFU, but the shithead neocons probably won't.


At June 16, 2009 at 5:21 AM, Blogger Praxis said...

I can't escape the feeling that Iran's reaction to this election puts America to shame.

I lived in Europe during the debacle that was election 2000 and never did have any answer for those who constantly asked why Americans weren't in the streets.

Then 9/11 happened. Then we started dropping bombs on Afghanistan and not soon later came Iraq.

I didn't live in my country at the time and I've always wondered why people didn't storm the mall.

I still don't get it. Especially after the epic downfall that can easily be pinned on the banks.

At June 16, 2009 at 6:05 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Like I said, Praxis:

We have passed along to our children our cynicism of politics and politicians without passing along as a counterpoint the importance of voting in the good ones.

We and our parents are partly to blame for the apathy, although, up to a point, it's understandable. Obama gave us hope, however misguided it's proving to be, but it still didn't us back to the same level of involvement that we had politically a century ago. Man is inherently a political animal but less so in America than anywhere else in the world. To many, politics is boring and to others, it isn't important enough or honest enough to engage one's interest.

We've been so beaten down by political corruption and scandal that over half of us think, What's the use? My vote won't count, anyway, and the only candidates are crooks?

But let's not forget that political non-involvement is what got Bush "elected" in '00 and "re-elected" in '04. Cynicism and non-involvement by the younger, reform-minded voters in Iran is what got Ahmedinejad re-elected in '05, a lesson they're only now learning.

At June 16, 2009 at 7:39 AM, Anonymous Don said...

Maybe they are in the streets now because they saw what happened when we were not.

At June 16, 2009 at 3:14 PM, Anonymous Heidi Stevenson said...

Thank you for an excellent commentary showing what's so very wrong with Americans today. My husband and I are constantly bemoaning that particular problem, but not in the U.S. We're in Scotland, and the populace over here is just a numbed as Americans are. It's most disheartening.

Methinks that the end for both countries is heading our way. People who don't care enough to speak out in any way deserve the government they're getting, and the one they're about to get.

At June 17, 2009 at 12:21 AM, Blogger thereturnofRusty said...

Are you people wearing tin foil
hats while touring the land of OZ?

At June 17, 2009 at 8:46 AM, Blogger sandyh said...

Have you ever wondered why the built suburbia and now exerbia? They have isolated our people from one another. We can't even meet without driving a car.

There isn't any small towns any longer and the big cities have been fragmented by highways running through them.

There is no sense of community. How often do we even come together to worship unless you are devote? Our relationships change as often as our jobs and residences.

Only through the internet and now cell phones have we began to come together again. Odd how technology became our friend when everyone said it would make us less human.

There is hope yet.


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